USC broadcast journalism program adopts Streambox for IP-based newsgathering

Annenberg TV News (ATVN), the student-run TV news organization at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Journalism, has broadened and enhanced its remote newsgathering capabilities with the Streambox ACT-L3 software solution. Streambox encoding enables broadcast journalism students to file live reports from any field location for ATVN's evening news.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the ATVN news program involves up to 280 USC students each semester; its live show airs at 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Previously, the ATVN production crew had no live, remote reporting capabilities. "Our students had to return to campus with the footage to get it on the show — and if the news was late-breaking or too far away, we just couldn't cover it because there was no way to get the video back in Los Angeles traffic," said John Goldsmith, production coordinator for Annenberg TV News. "When I saw the Streambox system demonstration at NAB a couple of years ago, I realized that this technology could help prepare our students for their first jobs in television news."

The Streambox encoding software runs on an off-the-shelf laptop and the network connection is usually an AT&T 3G wireless card. Depending on location, student news crews file their live reports via the wireless card or use the USC Ethernet connection if they are reporting from campus. A Streambox SBT3-5100 decoder, installed in ATVN's control room, decodes the video feed for playout during the broadcast.

Students recently used the Streambox encoder to transmit interviews of homeowners fleeing the recent Los Angeles-area wildfires. "We needed to move very quickly because the fires were advancing. We were just ahead of patrol cars that were warning people that they had 15 minutes to get out," said Christian Martinez, a sophomore broadcast journalism student at USC who serves as the Streambox technician for field crews. "But because the Streambox system is so portable and easy to use, we were able to do quick interviews as people were leaving and transmit video back to the newsroom over a low-data-rate IP connection. We even set up a live shot right next to a street that had been closed and weaved in the interview footage for the 6 p.m. broadcast," he said.